Governments announce $4.5M to help Toronto police curb gun violence

In the midst of a surge of gun violence across the city, the federal, provincial and municipal governments say they are pooling $4.5 million to provide funding for Toronto police.

In a statement issued Monday, Mayor John Tory said the spike in shootings the city is seeing is both “deeply troubling” and “absolutely unacceptable.”

Tory said all three levels of government have agreed to provide $1.5 million in funding each to “support police efforts to keep communities safe,” as well as curb street-gang activity.

“I want to thank the provincial and federal governments for joining with the City of Toronto to take immediate action,” Tory said in a statement.

“These additional resources for our Toronto Police Service will fund an even more intensive focus on those responsible for inflicting gun violence on our neighbourhoods as well as increasing police presence to keep communities safe.”

In a news release, the province said it is “authorizing up to $1.5 million” from a previously-announced $25 million to fight gun and gang violence to “be used to put boots on the ground where they are needed most to keep people safe.”

“Our government is doing everything in its power to fight the recent episodes of gun and gang violence and protect law-abiding citizens,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

Feds, city say funds are brand new

The city and the federal government, meanwhile, say their respective $1.5 million contributions are new funds.

Lawvin Hadisi, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said Tory will need to bring the funding request to city council’s next meeting in October — but the funding will still be available to Toronto police right now.

“Mayor Tory was elected by every ward in the city — he is the chief executive officer for the City of Toronto and it is his duty to provide leadership to council,” Hadisi said in an email.

“He demonstrated his leadership by bringing all levels of government together in order to address this urgent funding request to help our police officers combat gang violence right now and he is confident a majority of councillors will support this initiative.”

There has been a rash of shootings in city in recent weeks, including several over a violent Simcoe Day long weekend that left more than a dozen people with gunshot injuries from 14 separate shootings.

Chief touting ‘comprehensive plan’ in the works

According to police statistics, Toronto is on pace to set an annual record for the number of shooting incidents and victims.

It’s unclear exactly what will be done with the new funding. Tory said that Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders will unveil details of how the force will use the money “in the coming days.”

In a statement, Saunders said he welcomes the funding in an attempt to address gun violence.

“We know that most gun violence in Toronto is directly connected to street gang activity,” he said. “The Toronto Police Service has a comprehensive plan to address the issues we’re facing.

“I will launch the service’s plan in the coming days and we will continue to work with our communities to reduce gun violence in our city. Together we will create safer spaces.”

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